GROUP 10 coach Dave Elvy knows his team has to lift if they are to test defending Country Tier 2 champions Group 11 in their round two Country Championship match tomorrow at Carrington Park.
Elvy’s side had a comfortable 48-18 win over Castlereagh League last weekend in Gilgandra in a match they were always expected to win.
Things get tougher now against a team that not only enters the competition as the reigning champs but is arguably stronger now than last year.
On top of the talented side they fielded in 2011, you can add in former Parramatta Eel Dennis Moran, a Country Firsts player and one of the key figures behind the Parkes Spacemen’s resurgence in recent years.
And the talent doesn't stop there.
“When we got knocked out last year I got the chance to watch a lot of Group 11 in my capacity as Country coach and they were a great side then, on paper if anything they are better this year,” Elvy said.
“They have two Country back-rowers in Pat Rosser and Jamie Szczerbanik, two Country centres in Jade Williams and Rowan Orcher, they have Corey Stanley who was the Group 11 player of the year last season. Add to that Dennis Moran, that's a lot of talent.
“But in saying that it has been a while since they've beaten us and we always tend to lift when we play them. We have a good side of our own too.”
There will be some reshuffling for Group 10 with Christian Luyks set to return to the bench after being a late withdrawal from last weekend’s match.
He will take Kyle Cochrane’s spot, while Oberon bookend Zac Rowlandson comes onto the bench for Tigers team-mate Greg Behan.
There is also some doubt over the fitness of half-back Tom Clyburn after he picked up a knee injury last weekend but Elvy is confident that if he misses out, he has the players to fill the void.
“There are options there,” he said.
“Claude Gordon will go to half-back, he’s played a bit of footy there for CYMS this year.
“We can move Brendon Van Veen to five-eighth if we need to, Jono Van Veen is also there and Todd Barrow can handle it as well so there are a number of options.”
One of Elvy’s biggest concerns from the Castlereagh game was his team’s poor ball security where they regularly gave up great position in the search for quick points.
He knows this area, and the general patience of his players, will have to improve to compete with their fancied opponents.
“There were a few occasions where if the pass had have stuck we’d have scored last Saturday but against Group 11 the chances won’t come around very often, so we have to be patient and wait for the right opportunities,” Elvy said.
“If we're up their end, the first thing we need to be worried about is getting through our set, getting a line drop-out and worry about scoring after that.
“We have to play field position, concentrate on getting a good kick away every set and minimise the time that all their stars have with the ball in hand and in our half. If they are coming off their line all the time, it will make it a lot harder for them to play their best attacking football.
“It will also come back to attitude and who wants to work the hardest in defence.”
GROUP 10: 1 Jono Van Veen (Lithgow), 2 Zac Maher (Oberon), 3 Jared Brodrick (Orange Hawks) 4 Chris Ward (Mudgee), 5 Tim Bassmann (Orange CYMS), 6 Claude Gordon (Orange CYMS), 7 Tom Clyburn (Bathurst St Pat's), 8 Matt Kirkland (Bathurst Panthers), 9 Luke Carpenter (Bathurst Panthers), 10 Wade Judd (Oberon) 11. Matt Mizzi (Lithgow) 12 Brendon Van Veen (Lithgow), 13 Todd Barrow (C) (Orange Hawks). BENCH: 14 Jared Robinson (Mudgee), 15 Zac Merritt (Bathurst St Pat's), 16 Christian Luyks (Panthers) 20 Zac Rowlandson (Oberon).